Welcome to the 153rd “Carnival of Space”… and this week it’s a…
Well, everyone else is jumping on the 3D bandwagon, so why shouldn’t I?
If you’re a regular Carnival goer, then welcome to this week’s show, and welcome back to Cumbrian Sky. If this is your first visit to a Carnival, and you’re wondering what it is and what it’s for, it’s simple. The internet is brilliant, but basically there’s too much of it, it’s just too big; there’s so much happening Up There and Out There it’s hard, if not impossible, to keep track of things, isn’t it? So, every week a different blogger hosts on their blog a kind of “get together” for the bloggers who write about space exploration and astronomy, and generally spacey stuff, offering readers a chance to catch up on all the most interesting and exciting stuff in one go on one site. This week it’s my turn to host the “Carnival of Space”, and we have lots of fascinating and educational posts, from some of the best astronomy and space bloggers on the net, for you to read. And because 3D is all the rage at the moment, I’ve taken the liberty of scattering some of my own favourite 3D images of Mars, including many showing the Red Planet as seen by the two heroic Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Images like this one (click on it, and all the others, to bring up larger versions)…
You’ll need a pair of those unflattering red and blue glasses to view these anaglyphs – the funkier “sunglass” type 3D glasses you, um, forgot to give back after you watched AVATAR won’t work. (If you haven’t got a pair of those, just wander down town to the discount bookshop there and you’ll almost certainly find a kids book on sale in there, probably about dinosaurs or bugs or something like that, that comes with one or even two free pairs of 3D glasses )
Right, on with the Carnival!
First off this week, we have not one but two entries from Alan Boyle, who writes the Cosmic Log blog over at MSNBC.com. In his first post, Alan tells us all about the latest preparations for the launch of Elon Musk’s Falcon rocket. “SpaceX founder Elon Musk says it’s hard to imagine being under more pressure than he is now, during preparations for the first launch of a
rocket that’s being put forward as a replacement for the space shuttle
system.”, writes Alan. In his second Carnival offering this week, Alan reports on how NASA is preparing for the final, into-the-sunset flight of space shuttle orbiter “Atlantis”. I know the STS has had its problems, and perhaps didn’t live up to its initial promise, but I really will miss seeing those beautiful shuttles taking off, circling the space station and landing again. Whichever capsule replaces the shuttle it will look like a pug-ugly, snub-nosed throwback compared to the sleek, beautiful shuttle orbiters…
One of the most consistently thought-provoking blogs on the net is Brian Wang’s “Next Big Future”, and I’m delighted to be able to feature two of Brian’s fascinating posts this week:
“Lasermotive, winner of the power beaming competition of the space elevator games, provides details on power beaming to UAVs and powerbeaming among ground facilities” http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/05/laser-powerbeaming-to-uavs.html
“The path to Bose Einstein condensate positrinium then leads to gamma ray lasers which leads to better laser nuclear fusion.” http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/05/path-to-bose-einstein-condensate.html
Steve Nerlich writes a blog called “Cheap Astronomy“, but there’s nothing cheap about this enthusiasm and passion for the subject. This week, in a special podcast, he tells us all about the “Nice model of solar system formation“.
One of the most authoritative and respected space history bloggers is Robert Pearlman, whose blog CollectSpace is required reading for anyone with an interest in space exploration, past, present and future. For this week’s Carnival, Robert offers his post describing how NASA’s first Mission Control has been demolished.
Paul Gilster’s blog, “Centaurui Dreams“, is a big spacey chocolate box crammed full of tempting treats for deep thinkers. For this week’s Carnival he presents his post ‘Artificial Intelligence Among the Stars’: “Will evolving AI systems used for spacecraft design eventually become
sentient? Greg Bear gives one exciting read on the idea in his novel
Queen of Angels. Here I look at artificial intelligence in today’s
probes and discuss Paul Davies’ belief that any intelligent species we
run into in the galaxy is likely to be machine-based.”
Some blogs – like Cumbrian Sky (I hope!) – are ideal for dipping into and picking out a snippet of info, or looking at a gorgeous picture, without having your brain taxed too much. Other blogs are rather deeper and require lot more mental effort, but that effort is worth it because they open your mind to exciting and intriguing new ideas and concepts. One such blog is “21st Century Waves“, where Bruce Cordell uses a statistical crystal ball to try and gain glimpses into our future. For this week’s Carnival, Bruce takes a look at “The Greatest International Space Project of All Time” And what is that project? Make a few guesses before you click on the link and actually find out…
Mars is, as some of you will already know (and come on, if you didn’t already know that then all the 3D images are a pretty big clue!), my favourite planet, so I’m very happy to share with you John Williams’ post “Hiding in a Martian pit“, from his blog “Starry Critters“. In it, John explores what may be a door to a new home for future Martians.
Still on the subject of Mars, one of the most respected of all bloggers, Emily Lakdawalla – who writes the blog of The Planetary Society – has an absolutely fascinating martian tale to tell for this week’s Carnival. In a very personal post she describes how one of the twin Mars rovers, all those many millions of miles from Earth, took part in “A Moment In Time“, a global photographic project organised by the New York Times.
Emily has also written an absolutely fascinating report on some surprising results from the Cassini probe, which might have found something interesting, very exotic, and very alien on the floors of some of Titan’s meandering river channels…
I do a lot of Outreach work, and often after my talks I’m asked by a keen audience member if I can recommend any good websites. I always recommend Universe Today. Not just because it’s always guaranteed to have the very latest space news, but because it’s where where you can find brilliant articles and features by Nancy Atkinson (no relation, but I’d be proud to be!) For this week’s Carnival, Nancy offers her post describing an amazing event on Mars – a dust avalanche, triggered by a meteorite impact!
Nicole Gugliucci reports for the Carnival this week from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank “where diesel cars rule and microwaves hide in thick metal boxes.”
Remember the whole Pluto – Planet or Not? debate? Seems ages ago now. Well, even though the Pluto debate seems to have been settled, many people are now wondering about the status of other bodies in the solar system. Over on the “Weird Warp” blog, Chris Dann takes a look at the classification of Ceres.
It’s hard to think of an astronomy blog with a more eye-catching and intriguing name than “Dynamics of Cats”, which is where Steinn Sigurdsson has a report for the Carnival this week on NASA’s Senior Review of 2010, when the futures and fates of some NASA programs was decided. Kind of a “Pop Idol” results programme for space missions. Take a look at Steins’s post to see how your favourite fared.
One of the most popular blogs “out there” is Alice’s Astro Info, simply because it’s always an entertaining but educational read! This week Alice shares with us a touching story she had on 365 Days of Astronomy: “Iapetus and the Cassini Regio” Trust me, this is a story you’ll want to print out to keep, and share with other people, because Alice has the essential, key skill of a succesful Outreacher – she makes science fun!
One of the joys of hosting the Carnival is that you get to visit blogs you haven’t come across before. This week I was introduced to the Armagh Planetarium blog, which is written by Colin Johnston – and it’s a great blog! I wish I’d found it earlier! For this week’s Carnival, Colin shares with us some of the more… um… unusual theories about the nature of the Universe that he’s come across. Your eyes will roll as you read them, but at the end of his post Colin makes a very valid point about why it’s important to counter and not censor or just ignore such claims for the good of science as a whole. (I REALLY will have to get over to Armagh Planetarium one day, it looks like a wonderful place… )
As NASA’s plans for human spaceflight lurch from one panel or proposal or review to the next, and manned missions to the Moon and Mars seem to recede further and further away into an uncertain future, many people are hoping that private industry and entrepeneurs will pick up the torch and open up the High Frontier. At the recent Space Economy Leadership Summit, held at Austin, Texas, panels looked at “job creation and entrepreneurship for the next economic frontier.” Kenneth Murphy attended the summit, and has posted a very comprehensive, and enlightening, report on the meeting on his blog “Out of The Cradle“.
There’s no such thing as a ‘quick visit’ to Bruce Leeeowe’s blog Weird Sciences because there’s so much to read there, and it’s posts are so detailed too. It’s what I call a “two cups of tea blog” – one cuppa won’t last long enough while you’re there reading. For this week’s Carnival, Bruce has a very thought-provoking post on the possibility of life “Out There”, and looks at how learning as much as we can about extremophile life here on Earth is vital if we’re to understand what life might be like out in the Great Black…
I don’t think this has ever happened before, but we have a “reader recommendation” this week! AFAIK, entries to the Carnival of Space are always submitted by their authors, but this week I was contacted by Carnival reader David Digwood, who suggested that a post by Paul Spudis on the “The Once and Future Moon” should be enjoyed by Carnival readers. I took a look and had to agree. So, take David’s advice and go read about “The Four Flavours of Lunar Water“. Thanks for the suggestion, David!
…and finally, my own contribution to this week’s Carnival is a poetic tribute to the amazing view Oppy (that’s the Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’, if you didn’t know) is currently enjoying. On the horizon she can see a range of hills that form the rim of the huge crater “Endeavour”, which she will hopefully reach in another year or so’s time. We’ll see. But I have every confidence in her and the men and women behind her. Never bet against a Mars rover doing anything, it’s a guaranteed way of losing your money…
Okay, the Carnival is closing now, so time to wrap things up and take off your 3D glasses, too! I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit here, and that you found something interesting this week. If you write a space blog, why not send in a contribution to next week’s Carnival? Or, better yet, think about hosting a future Carnival on your blog?
Thanks for stopping by Cumbrian Sky!
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